Leeds Rhinos: Harry Newman has sights set on England call-up

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TEENAGE Leeds Rhinos star Harry Newman has targeted outplaying all the best English centres in Super League next season – in his bold bid to complete a whirlwind rise to becoming a Test player.

Having made his England Academy debut last year and represented England Knights this time around, he has his eyes on a rapid hat-trick by playing for England against Australia in the 2020 Ashes.

Picture by Isabel Pearce/SWpix.com - 02/08/2019 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League - Huddersfield Giants v Leeds Rhinos - John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield, England - Harry Newman of Leeds.

Picture by Isabel Pearce/SWpix.com - 02/08/2019 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League - Huddersfield Giants v Leeds Rhinos - John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield, England - Harry Newman of Leeds.

Obviously, it would be a remarkable achievement given Newman has only just enjoyed his breakthrough Super League campaign and does not even turn 20 until February.

Nevertheless, given his natural talent and growing reputation in the sport, allied to the national side’s continued struggle to settle on a centre partnership, it is perhaps not beyond the realms of possibility.

He played in the Knights victory over Jamaica at Emerald Headingley recently and also has rare and vital experience of beating Australia.

Newman was part of the England Academy side that memorably defeated the Green and Gold schoolboy tourists in 2018, the second Test win also coming at his home ground.

Harry Newman in action for England Knights against Jamaica.

Harry Newman in action for England Knights against Jamaica.

“With the Knights, obviously it’s the next step up towards that full England cap or playing for Great Britain,” said the 19-year-old.

“It was an England game against fully-grown men and obviously Jamaica were up for it. But playing with top players from other Super League clubs was really good for me.

“I really enjoyed the game and it was a good experience but I’m looking to kick on next year and try and hopefully make a full England cap.”

England’s lack of centres was well-documented during Great Britain’s recent woeful tour of the southern hemisphere, Warrington Wolves second-row Jack Hughes playing there in losses against the Kiwis and Papua New Guinea.

Harry Newman in action for England Knights.

Harry Newman in action for England Knights.

“Obviously (Oliver) Gildart got injured the first game against Tonga and (Mark) Percival missed out on tour through injury,” added Newman.

“They’re both top-class centres. I’ve just got to look to perform week in week out next season and when I come up against the England centres, give them my best game.

“That can hopefully prove to the selectors that I’m good enough to make that England debut. But there’s a lot of hard work to go in first – I’ve got to perform for Leeds and get in this side – but I am looking forward to 2020.”

Hull FC’s Jake Connor is also in front of Newman in any race to face the Kangaroos in the three Test series here next autumn.

Konrad Hurrell.

Konrad Hurrell.

Of course, there could also yet be a return to the elite level for former Rhinos captain Kallum Watkins, a man who has been so influential in the youngster’s development before leaving for Gold Coast Titans in June.

Newman added: “Last season was a great year for me. I started off at Featherstone but ended up being a regular in the Leeds side. I was just learning off the likes of Kallum and Konrad (Hurrell) who play in the same position as me.

“I learned a lot from this year and am really looking forward to next season.

“I’m getting a big pre-season in now, improving general team skill and our fitness and I reckon this next year could be a big one.”

Newman hopes to feature in the Boxing Day friendly against Wakefield Trinity.

“Pre-season is a slog but it gets you ready for what is going to be a massive year,” said the Huddersfield-born player.

“I’ve been in since day one so hopefully I’ll play but everyone will be looking to do so in that Boxing Day game especially some of the younger lads who are wanting to kick on and play first-team. People like Muizz Mustapha and Callum McLelland have been killing it in training and really putting their hand up to play first-team.”